I had a very kind offer from Stuart Read to meet on Sunday afternoon so he could show me a few special plants he has found in this neck of the woods.
Meeting at his house in Great Cornard near Sudbury we were soon walking the surprisingly hilly local field paths to a spot beside an arable field. Here we found target no.1, the scarce and rapidly declining umbellifer Shepherd's Needle. Being early in the season we were lucky to find a few plants in flower and some showing the distinctive needle-like seed pods. In that area we also had Thyme-leaved Speedwell and Germander Speedwell.
Target no.2 involved a short drive but when at the spot by a woodland stream it was another easy find with 6 plants of Alternate-leaved Golden Saxifrage only feet from the road. In the woods there Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage was also seen and allowed a handy comparison. The rarer ALGS being a larger brighter plant with the diagnostic alternate stem leaves. It also favours (as at this site) flowing water and also doesn't form mats of plants like OLGS. The woods were choc full of Bluebells, Wood Anenomes and Wood Sorrel.
On to our last site - the huge expanse of Shalford Meadow. Stuart's local knowledge really paid off here with the diminutive Mousetail found straight away thanks to his sticks marking the plants! Around the edge of the meadow a stream held Reed Sweet Grass and a Grey Wagtail. Winter thrushes were also still about with c50 Fieldfares and an extremely late Redwing. A single Little Egret failed to give in to Stuarts's camera!
A great sunny late afternoon/early evening with good company and some fantastic plants.